Yale Friday Newsletter – 01/11/13

After a brief hiatus for the holidays, the Yale Friday Newsletter is back!  Enjoy below the fold (slightly edited for our readers):

Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics Director Stephen Latham has the following updates:

  • I’m pleased to announce the publication of a Hastings Center Special Report on Animal Research Ethics. This represents the first (published) fruits of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy, which is a partnership between the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and the Hastings Center. The project was funded by a grant from The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund.
  • Congratulations to Joe Carvalko on publication of his new book, “The Techno-Human Shell: A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap.” The book deals with the consequences of our one day incorporating computational and other technologies into our bodies, and asks at what point, and in what ways, our future cyborg-selves might begin to regard our own humanity differently. Joe, a patent attorney and engineer, is a member of the Community Bioethics Forum of the Program on Biomedical Ethics at Yale School of Medicine, as well as a member of our Technology and Ethics working group.
  • A reminder about two events at the University of Strasbourg: The Fifth International Symposium on Ethics (April 11-13, 2013) whose topic is “Ethical Challenges of Disability”, and the Strasbourg Summer School in Interdisciplinary European Ethics (June 23-July 6, 2013)
This Week on Campus

Tuesday, January 15

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker:Jane Martin, MPH,Executive Manager of Alcohol and Obesity Policy, Cancer Council Victoria
Topic: Obesity Prevention Policy in Australia – Perspectives from the Land Downunder

Child Study Center Grand Rounds
Time: 1 PM
Location: Cohen Auditorium, 230 South Frontage Rd
Speakers: Robert King, MD;Thomas Fernandez, MD; Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD
Topic: From Bedside to Bench: Translational Clinical Science and Tourette Syndrome

Wednesday, January 16

Poynter Fellowship Lecture
Time: 11 AM
Location: Connecticut Mental Health Center Auditorium, 34 Park St.
Speaker: Charles Duhigg, staff writer at The New York Times
Topic: The Power of Habit

Thursday, January 17

Humanities in Medicine Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: Anlyan Auditorium, 300 Cedar St
Speaker: Robert Klitzman, MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of Masters of Bioethics Program, Columbia University
Topic: Am I My Genes?


Off Campus Events & Conferences

The Future of Global Tobacco Control: Current Constitutional and Treaty-Based Challenges

American Journal of Law and Medicine Annual Conference
Boston University Law School
Friday, January 25, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michael Siegel, BU School of Public Health

Faculty, students, and the general public are welcome to attend. For academic questions, please contact the AJLM Symposium Editors at ajlmsymposium@gmail.com. For event-related questions and to register for this conference, please contact BU Law’s Events & PR Manager, Elizabeth Aggott. Please RSVP by Wednesday, January 16, 2013.


Thinking with Animals
A Minding Animals Pre-Conference Event
Friday, January 25, 2013
8:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
12 Waverly Place, Room G08, NYC 10003

RSVP Required: http://animalstudies.as.nyu.edu/object/asevent.20130125.thinkinganimals
Seating will be first come, first serve.

Speakers: Alice Crary, Jan Dutkiewicz, Amy Leigh Field, Dale Jamieson, Colin Jerolmack, Timothy Pachirat, Dominic Pettman, Pooja Rangan, Chris Schlottmann, Jeff Sebo, Ada Smailbegovic, Miriam Ticktin & Rafi Youatt.

Although the social sciences, humanities, and philosophy have long been characterized by a deep-seated anthropocentrism, the recent explosion of popular moral concern for nonhuman animals has helped expand the boundaries of these disciplines. This conference examines how the “animal turn” is altering the contours of academic inquiry in the fields of philosophy, anthropology, politics, sociology, cultural studies, and literature. Specifically, scholars will examine how our relations with animals both reflect and shape the historical, political, and cultural contexts in which they are embedded; and they will ask what it means to theorize animals as political, economic, social, and moral objects—and subjects. A flyer and the conference program with abstracts and speaker biographies can be downloaded from this webpage.


From a Dream to a Vision: A Journey Towards Optimal Health

National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care
Tuskegee University

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech, “I Have A Dream.” The anniversary year provides the opportunity to explore human rights and social justice as central to health, wellness, research, and the common good. In this anniversary year, the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care will sponsor their regular yearly intensive public health ethics education course at the university on April 2-5, 2013. This year’s course is entitled, “From a Dream to a Vision: A Journey Towards Optimal Health.” The week’s seminars will explore important perspectives. One of special importance at this time of history will be women’s voices in ethics, health and health care. Continuing education credits will be provided (CME, Nursing CE, General CEU). Interested individuals/institutions are to contact the National Bioethics Center for information. POC is Mr. Richard Taylor at the National Bioethics Center via:

Email: taylorre@mytu.tuskegee.edu

Tel: (334) 725-2314

General information about the National Bioethics Center and Tuskegee University can be found at: www.tuskegee.edu/bioethics.


Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

REIDS Application Deadline Extended to February 1

Do you have a special interest in Community Based Research? If you do, we are accepting applications for the 2013 REIDS Summer Institute. Apply now for the opportunity to receive up to $20,000 in pilot project funding. All application materials must be submitted by Friday, February 1, 2013. We STRONGLY URGE you to contact Kate Stoddard (kate.stoddard@yale.edu or 203-764-8476) before you begin the application process. Apply Now…


Rock Ethics Institute Postdoctoral Scholars The Pennsylvania State University 

The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State has a threefold mission to promote ethics education, research, and outreach.  In particular, we aim a) to integrate ethics education across the Penn State curriculum and to provide informal ethics education to our community in order to underscore and strengthen a culture of integrity and responsibility at Penn State, and b) to serve as a catalyst for interdisciplinary research in the field of ethics that is both collaborative and policy-relevant.   We pursue our educational aim by working with faculty across the university to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to integrate ethics into their undergraduate classes. We are also launching a program to train STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to become leaders and educators in the field of research ethics. Our research efforts have led to a series of exciting collaborations related to food ethics, neuroethics, and climate ethics, including a recent NSF sponsored research network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management Strategies which will investigate the question: “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?” At least four ten-month postdoctoral scholarships will be awarded with appointments beginning August 2013. Appointments are for full time employment (40 hours per week) and may be continued for a maximum of 3 years contingent upon satisfactory performance and the needs of the Institute. The salary range is $45,000-$60,000 per year, depending on experience.

Scholars will receive training and mentorship. They will be expected to assist in designing, offering, and assessing ethics training for faculty and graduate students, to participate in collaborative research in ethics, and to help to strengthen the interdisciplinary ethics community across the campus. Scholars can expect to work on co-authored publications and engage in research that will contribute to their own research trajectory. Scholars may also receive experience working on grants and other fundraising activities. They will also work closely with senior faculty related to their area of expertise and participate in multi-disciplinary seminars and conferences. There may be opportunities to teach one class per year. Applicants are expected to have completed the requirements for the Ph.D. or professional degree by the appointment date.

Candidates should submit an online application and arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent confidentially to Deborah Trialonas at dlb49@psu.edu  A complete application will include a cover letter detailing the candidate’s qualifications, including how their background qualifies them for one or more of the above listed areas of interest and how their experience is relevant to the position as described; a current curriculum vitae; a scholarly paper or dissertation chapter (not to exceed 12,000 words) representing the applicant’s scholarly achievement or potential; three letters of recommendation. To ensure full consideration, complete applications should be received by January 4, 2013. The selection committee will begin reviewing applications immediately and incomplete applications may be at a disadvantage.  We will be interviewing candidates February 20-23, 2013 at the Central APA in New Orleans.  Skype interviews will be arranged for those unable to attend the Central APA meetings. We encourage applications from individuals of diverse backgrounds. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity of its workplace.


Assistant Professor of Research Ethics and Medical Humanities, University of Arkansas

The Division of Medical Humanities in the College of Medicine at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS—the state’s only health sciences institution with a medical school) seeks to appoint a tenure-track faculty member at the level of assistant professor to focus on ethical issues in research. Along with education and consultation in research ethics and participation on the university’s IRBs, the Division provides support for the UAMS CTSA and participates in national research collaborations as well.  While applicants must have particular interests and experience in research ethics, more broadly, they should be familiar with all aspects of bioethics and be prepared to teach medical students, residents, faculty, and others in various areas of medical ethics and humanities.  Further, applicants must have a terminal degree in a humanities discipline, law, medicine, nursing, or other health profession.  Salary will be commensurate with rank and experience and will be in line with the AAMC’s figures for PhDs in bioethics.

 Established in 1982, the Division of Medical Humanities (www.uams.edu/humanities/) provides ethics education, consultation and other support throughout the institution and its affiliated partners—Central Arkansas VA and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  The Division is particularly proud of its many offerings by nationally recognized faculty in a broad range of medical humanities, including literature, history, anthropology, and law. Review of applications will begin in February 2013 and continue until the position is filled.  The intended start date is July 1, 2013. To apply, an applicant should send a cover letter, CV, three letters of recommendations, and a sample of scholarship to:

Carol VanPelt
Administrative Assistant
4301 W. Markham St., #646
Little Rock, AR  72205

UAMS is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


Public Health Law Research: Making the Case for Laws that Support Health
Dissertation Grant Support

We are pleased to alert you to an exciting new opportunity for funding provided by the Public Health Law Research Program (PHLR). Many of you may be aware of the Strategic and Targeted Research Program (STRP) that PHLR initiated earlier this year to build the evidence for and strengthen the use of regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public. This program funds research to fill critical gaps in the public health law evidence base. As part of this effort, PHLR is offering dissertation grants to train doctoral students in public health law research methods, including the development of legal datasets. We invite current PhD students in accredited doctoral degree programs to apply. Dissertation Grants will be awarded for up to $20,000 each for 12 months maximum. These grants include:

-Qualitative or quantitative studies of the health effects of specific laws or regulations and/or related underlying mechanisms of effect.
-Mapping studies — Empirical legal research that creates a multi-jurisdictional data set of laws suitable for quantitative research. Mapping studies require the integration of legal analysis and public health research to ensure that the important dimensions of the relevant laws are accurately and comprehensively measured.

Up to $100,000 will be available under this program.For more information, visit the Funding Opportunities page on the PHLR website.


Bioethicist, Sutter Health West Bay Region, Northern California
Program in Medicine & Human Values, California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)*
Primary Location: California-San Francisco-Other Locations

The Bioethicist West Bay Region (“WBR”), under the supervision of the Director PMHV, the Senior Ethics Scholar and CPMC Bioethicist, will be the key provider of ethics expertise to Sutter West Bay Hospitals.  This position will support the Ethics Committees of Sutter West Bay Hospitals by receiving and coordinating all requests for ethics consultations, executing consultations and following up with cases after referral. The Bioethicist WBR will be responsible for educating and training the hospital ethics committees of Sutter West Bay Hospitals using materials developed by the PMHV on the basis of the consultation case model used at CPMC. Additionally, the Bioethicist WBR will develop with PMHV faculty ethics committee education and training materials.  The Bioethicist WBR will participate in regular ethics rounds in Sutter West Bay Hospitals and lecture at appropriate Sutter West Bay educational events. This position requires extensive travel between the Sutter West Bay Hospitals.

Education: For non-physicians, an advanced degree in bioethics or a related field; Ph.D preferred. For physicians or other health professionals, a Fellowship of at least one year, at a recognized bioethics program.
Knowledge: Must possess knowledge of principles, concepts and methods of health care ethics consultation, ethics program development and bioethics education. Should have knowledge of biomedical ethics terms, the bioethics literature, professional standards, methods of case analysis, JCAHO guidelines, and basic understanding of medical terminology.
Experience: Documented experience with clinical ethics consultation as individual consultant, experience with bioethics education and interdisciplinary collaboration. Experience in a health care setting with patient care, ethics education and ethics committee education/ethics committee operations.

Please apply online: https://sutterhealth.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=1373245&src=JB-15920
Job Number: CPMC-1214796


The cross-network/trans-NIH Institute Youth Prevention Working Group (YPRWG) is seeking a post doc or graduate student in a related field of study (e.g., social welfare, public health, sociology, psychology) familiar with the HIV clinical research landscape to review HIV prevention literature.  Research assistants would apply inclusion criteria developed by the YPRWG, help determine articles and measures appropriate for inclusion in a searchable database, and make metadata assignment recommendations.  The database will help the committee analyze the existing research imperatives, trial results, and protocols in development to identify gaps in the NIH HIV/AIDS scientific enterprise.  Criteria includes: general study information, document type, target population, age range, gender, regional setting, demographic, route of infection, HIV status of participants, trial design, trial status, funding source, PI/lead author, target accrual, dates, trial type, etc.   Guidance and documents will be provided by the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC).  Experience using SharePoint is desired but not required.  For more information about the position and to contribute to the project, please contact Amy Ragsdale (aragsdal@fhcrc.org).


Healthcare Compliance Certification Program 2013 Health Law Student Scholarship
Seton Hall Law School Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy is offering two scholarships to attend the Healthcare Compliance Certification Program, June 10-13, 2013, a multi-day educational program that addresses the myriad of legal and compliance issues faced by the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The award recognizes promising health law students with an aptitude for and commitment to a career in health law focusing on legal and compliance issues within the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical technology industries.  Submission deadline is February 8, 2013.  Details regarding eligibility, judging, and requirements can be found here.


Postdoctoral Position in Science, Technology and Society

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology and Society (STS) and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University are seeking to hire a Postdoctoral Fellow with expertise in STS. The one-year position will carry a teaching load of one course in Technology and Society; the successful candidate will also assist in STS Program activities and build links between STS and SEAS. Renewal for a second year may be possible contingent on satisfactory performance and available funding. Candidates should preferably have some background in physical sciences or engineering and be qualified to carry out research on the social implications of one or more aspects of engineering or applied sciences, such as information and communication technologies, biotechnology, or nanotechnology. Areas of specialization might include studies of innovation; risk and regulation; intellectual property; new research partnerships and research governance; and ethical issues in technological R&D. Research experience on comparative, international and global issues is especially welcome. Interdisciplinary teaching experiences are highly desirable. Candidates should hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in an appropriate field, including STS, sociology, law, political science, economics, or engineering. Interested candidates should submit a curriculum vitae, a cover letter with a statement of research interests, a writing sample or representative publication,and names of three referees via the form on the STS Program website. Review of applications will begin on January 28, 2013 and continue until the position is filled. Applications from women and minorities are especially encouraged. Harvard University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer. Cover letters should be addressed to Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Director, Program on Science, Technology and Society, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Mailbox 17, Cambridge, MA 02138. Questions about the application process should be directed to Shana Rabinowich, the STS Program Administrator, at shana_rabinowich@hks.harvard.edu.


Harvard Medical School Division of Medical Ethics Fellowship in Medical Ethics 2013-2014

The Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School supports research and teaching on ethical issues in medicine, health, and healthcare policy and practice.  The Fellowship in Medical Ethics is open to physicians, nurses, lawyers, social workers, and others in academic fields related to medicine or health with a serious interest in medical ethics and a wish to further their knowledge of the history, philosophical underpinnings and contemporary practice of bioethics.  Fellows attend a weekly three hour seminar designed to explore a wide range of issues, including ethical theory, clinical ethics, research ethics, and selected topics in public health ethics. Most weeks there is extensive reading and a brief paper. During the year, fellows participate in the intellectual life of the Division of Medical Ethics and are eligible to participate in Harvard University courses with permission of the course instructor as well as monthly division Faculty Seminars and various public programs in medical ethics sponsored by the Division.

Fellows must have external salary support.  The fellowship fee is $4,000. Most Fellows receive this support from their sponsoring institutions, and The Division of Medical Ethics will assist applicants who would like help approaching their sponsoring institutions with such a request. Fellows are selected on the basis of their previous academic achievement and the contribution they are likely to make as researchers, clinicians, and teachers in medical ethics. Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter of not more than 750 words, describing the reasons for their interest in the Fellowship, including any particular topics or questions they are most interested in exploring. This letter is an important opportunity for applicants to tell us about themselves, their interests, and their motivations in pursuing training in medical ethics. Applicants should also provide two letters of reference and a third letter from their supervisor or key senior staff person, demonstrating institutional support for the candidate’s involvement in the HMS Fellowship and likely opportunities the candidate will have to contribute to bioethics at their home institution, upon completion of the Fellowship. Deadline for submission of application materials is April 15, 2013. Three copies of all application materials should be sent to:

Professor Mildred Solomon, Fellowship Director
c/o Helena Martins
Harvard Medical School, Division of Medical Ethics,
641 Huntington Ave, 2nd Flr,
Boston, MA  02115

If you have any questions please contact Helena at helena_martins@hms.harvard.edu or 617-432-3041. http://medethics.med.harvard.edu/education/fellowship/


Calls for Papers & Nominations

The Hastings Center’s journal “IRB: Ethics & Human Research” is looking for articles on informed consent, IRB decision-making, payment to research participants, genetic research with humans, or any of the wide range of topics in human research ethics, you are invited to submit your to work.  “We welcome empirical studies, conceptual pieces, and commentaries.”  For more information, go to publications@thehastingscenter.org


Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., a national firm engaged in the practice of health care and life sciences law, is pleased to announce its Fifteenth Annual Health Law Writing Competition. The competition is designed to encourage the preparation of scholarly papers on current topics of interest relating to health law. Cash prizes will be awarded for the three best papers. Entrants should take advantage of the fact that health law is a very broad and diverse field, encompassing aspects of almost every area of law. Papers may address any traditional area of the law as applied to health care (e.g., antitrust, tax, corporate) or areas of law unique to health care (e.g., fraud and abuse, managed care, Medicare/Medicaid, clinical trials). Entries in the top 20 percent will be considered for publication in the Annals of Health Law, which is published by the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Additional information and an official entry form can be found here. Competition entries are due by January 25, 2013. Questions? Please contact Serra J. Schlanger at 202-861-0900 or ebgcompetition@ebglaw.com.


Other Items of Interest

Unite for Sight has a “Global Health Volunteer Abroad Opportunity.” Locations of year-round programs are: Ghana, Honduras, and India.  You can volunteer for 7 days, 15 days, 20 days, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks, or more.


PROOF: Media for Social Justice:  While most nonprofits focus on material needs such as food, medicine, and economic development, PROOF’s mission is to restore the social fabric of communities by caring “for the soul” through photo exhibits and workshops that emphasize reconciliation.  PROOF brings former enemies together for face-to-face dialogue, using their exhibits as a starting point.  They may have summer internship opportunities.

In a recent survey, 67% of Connecticut voters said they favored allowing a mentally competent adult dying of a terminal disease to make an end-of-life decision, for example, to request a prescription for medication from their doctors they can ingest to bring about a humane and dignified death. Compassion &Choices – Connecticut is leading the effort to pass a permissive Aid in Dying bill during this year’s legislative session. You can contact Tim Appleton at tappleton@compassionandchoices.org or give him a call at 860 922 1988 if you have questions or want to assist in this important issue.


You are invited to the opening of the new Saint Francis Center for Health Equity, home of the Curtis D. Robinson Men’s Health Institute, dedicated to eliminating health disparities. With all of my heart – know that this is the time for our beloved community to come alongside healthcare to shape equitable care. On January 14 we need community members to show up to affirm the mission we share to hear from our community. We need you – now more than ever! And bring a friend! For more information, please call (860) 714-5770 or email menshealth@stfranciscare.org. REGISTER – so we know how many folks will attend. THANKS SO MUCH!  OUR WEBSITE:  www.sfmhi.com.

Dr. Marcus M. McKinney, LPC
Vice President
Community Health Equity and Health Policy Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
114 Woodland Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06105

Office (860) 714-4183
Cell (860) 805-5971


Articles of Interest

In the News


Belluck, Pam. Pregnancy Centers Gain Influence in Anti-Abortion Arena. New York Times. 4 January 2013.
With free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, along with diapers, parenting classes and even temporary housing, pregnancy centers are playing an increasingly influential role in the anti-abortion movement. While most attention has focused on scores of new state laws restricting abortion, the centers have been growing in numbers and gaining state financing and support. Continue reading…


Landau, Elizabeth. Allergy bullying: When food is a weapon. CNN. 5 January 2013.
In kindergarten, Owen Kellogg came home sobbing one day because another boy at school had told him that he had a peanut, and that he was going to force Owen to eat it. It’s hard for parents of food-allergic children to keep them safe at school when there are so many opportunities to eat snacks and meals with unsafe ingredients. For some kids, just touching a certain food or inhaling particles of it could cause a reaction. But on top of the safety question is a social one. A study released last week suggests that almost half of children who have food allergies have been bullied — sometimes by having food thrown at them. Continue reading…

Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

Rabin, Roni Caryn. Legalizing of Marijana Raises Health Concerns. New York Times. 7 January 2013.
In the ’60s, marijuana was a hallmark of the counterculture, along with free love, bell bottoms, long hair and bandannas. But marijuana has had the most staying power. This month, in a remarkable first, the recreational use of marijuana became legal (depending on your definition) in Colorado and Washington. Over a dozen other states have decriminalized possession of small amounts, and Massachusetts recently became the 18th state to allow its use for medicinal purposes. Continue reading…


Cleverer Still. The Economist. 22 December 2012.

Science has few more controversial topics than human intelligence—in particular, whether variations in it are a result of nature or nurture, and especially whether such variations differ between the sexes. The mines in this field can blow up an entire career, as Larry Summers found out in 2005 when he spoke of the hypothesis that the mathematical aptitude needed for physics and engineering, as well as for maths itself, is innately rarer in women than in men. He resigned as president of Harvard University shortly afterwards. Continue reading…


Kinver, Mark. Oil sands’ toxins ‘accumulate in freshwater evosystems.’ BBC News. 8 January 2013.
Toxic pollutants released by oil sands mining operations are accumulating in freshwater ecosystems, research by Canadian scientists suggests. The development of the oil sands sector has been controversial, prompting an at-times polemic debate between those in favour of utilising the resource to cushion the Canadian economy from shocks in global energy prices and those who say the environmental costs are too high. Continue reading…


Rosenthal, Elizabeth. As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs. New York Times. 5 January 2013.
Recent laws in the United States and Europe that mandate the increasing use of biofuel in cars have had far-flung ripple effects, economists say, as land once devoted to growing food for humans is now sometimes more profitably used for churning out vehicle fuel. Continue reading…

Welsh, Jennifer. Genetically Engineered Salmon is Perfectly Safe, FDA Says. Business Insider. 28 December 2012.
After 17 years in the approval process, the AquAdvantage salmon is one step closer to being sold for human consumption. The FDA found that the genetically engineered salmon is perfectly safe to eat and won’t harm the environment, they announced on Friday, Dec. 21. Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Kansas hits up sperm donor for child support. CNN. 5 January 2013.
If you’re planning to donate sperm in Kansas, you may want to do it through a doctor. That’s one message from the case of William Marotta of Topeka. In 2009, he noticed a Craig’s List advertisement from a lesbian couple, also in Topeka, seeking donated sperm. “Intrigued” by the ad, he agreed to donate and says he delivered three cupfuls of his sperm — gratis — to the women, one of whom gave birth to a daughter. When the the parents separated and one of the women stopped working because of illness and applied to the state for help, the state contacted Marotta for child support. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Walsh, Fergus. Could we ever run out of blood? BBC News. 8 January 2013.

Urgent appeals for blood donors seem to be a regular event – certainly at this time of year. So what triggers an appeal and is it feasible that we could ever run out of blood? Continue reading…

Public Health

C. H. Fat Years. The Economist. 4 January 2013.
Being fat is bad for you. That, at least, is the received wisdom. In reality the picture is more complex, because the prevailing measure of fatness, weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared, known as the body-mass index (BMI), is imperfect and because bad for you is a vague term. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), being a bit too pudgy may in fact reduce the risk of dying in a given period. Continue reading…

Grady, Denise. Pap Test Could Help Find Cancers of Uterus and Ovaries. New York Times. 9 January 2013.
The Pap test, which has prevented countless deaths from cervical cancer, may eventually help to detect cancers of the uterus and ovaries as well, a new study suggests. For the first time, researchers have found genetic material from uterine or ovarian cancers in Pap smears, meaning that it may become possible to detect three diseases with just one routine test. But the research is early, years away from being used in medical practice, and there are caveats. Continue reading…

Sifferlin, Alexandra. HPV Cases Remain High Despite Vaccine. CNN. 8 January 2013.
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer shows the U.S. is making progress in controlling some tumors, but rates of human papilloma virus-related cancers remain stubbornly high. Overall, the report shows lower cancer rates in the U.S. among all genders and racial and ethnic groups for the most common cancers, including lung, colon, anal, breast and prostate. But rates of HPV-related cancers, like cervical cancer, are elevated despite the fact that a vaccine exists to prevent the viral infection that can trigger the disease. Continue reading…


In the Journals

Armstrong, Natalie. Do informed consent documents for cancer trials do what they should? Sociology of Health and Illness. 2012.

Though patient information leaflets (PILs) are provided to those invited to take part in medical research, they usually fall short in facilitating informed decisions about participation. We aimed to explore why there is an enduring requirement for a process that seems not to ‘work’, and to explain why the problems have proven resistant to correction. We analysed applications for ethical approval for 13 oncology trials and related official guidance. We interviewed 26 patients invited to participate in the trials. Data analysis was based on the constant comparative method. We show that PILs function latently to satisfy purposes other than their manifest function as a decision-facilitating tool. PILs are the outcome of a process of institutional scripting that is strongly shaped by the accountability demands inherent in the ethical review process. This results in the PIL being made to serve purposes both as a prospectus and as a contract. Though PILs have value for some patients, most do not recognise these documents as operating primarily in their interests. Patients make decisions in ways that deviate from official ideals. This analysis is important in recognising that no simple technical fix is available, and in enhancing sociological understanding of the institutional role of documents. Continue reading…

Erickson-Davis, Cordelia. Ethical concerns regarding commercialization of deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder. Bioethics. 2012.
The United States Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the commercial use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will be discussed within the context of the existing USA regulatory framework. The purpose will be to illustrate the current lack of regulation and oversight of the DBS market, which has resulted in the violation of basic ethical norms. The discussion will focus on: 1) the lack of available evidence on procedural safety and efficacy, 2) the numerous conflicts of interest held by research investigators, and 3) the ambiguity of both aforementioned categories due to an inherent lack of transparency in the research. It is argued that in order to address these issues, ethical analyses of DBS for psychiatric disorders must include the role of the industry forces that have become the primary impetus for this research. As such, DBS for OCD serves as an important case example in studies of neurotechnology and innovative surgery. Continue reading…

Mascia, Katherine. The Bioethics of Providing Cochlear Implants to Children: Informed Choices and Autonomous Decision Making. Journal of the American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association. 2012.
The significant advances in technology and educational options for children who are deaf present a parent with opportunities to make choices on behalf of their child.The variability in overall results for all available options and the long term implications of decisions made early in a child’s life make it necessary for parents to utilize an objective process. A framework for ensuring the parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their child will be discussed using five principles of bioethics. Points of controversy regarding the use of cochlear implants as well as the use of American Sign Language (ASL) will be explored. The issue of informed choice is examined and analyzed. Continue reading…

Mello, Michelle. Ethical considerations in studying drug safety: The Institute of Medicine Report. 2012.
The tumult arising from revelations of serious safety risks associated with widely prescribed drugs, including rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline), rofecoxib (Vioxx, Merck), and celecoxib (Celebrex, Pfizer), has led to widespread recognition that improvement is needed in our national system of ensuring drug safety. The experience with rosiglitazone and the TIDE trial offers a lesson in how our current approach to the oversight of drug-safety and postmarketing research can fail both the public and the research participants. Reactive policymaking is tempting but problematic. The history of regulation of human subjects research suggests that rules that are “born in scandal and reared in protectionism” often fall short of providing meaningful protections to research participants and that, once adopted, regulations can ossify and become difficult to dislodge. Continue reading…



Ars Technica

Lee, Chris. Profits over your dead body. January 5, 2013.
Imagine living in a world where visiting the doctor was an experience fraught with danger. Where the drugs you were prescribed may or may not be effective—and may or may not be safe. Imagine having a medical procedure recommended that wasn’t known to work. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. Addressing an epidemic of Rx deaths. January 7, 2013.
Prescription drug overdoses killed more than 37,000 Americans in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; that death rate has tripled since 1990. The increase is not surprising, considering these additional CDC statistics: The number of prescriptions for painkillers has more than quadrupled since 1999, and more than 12 million Americans reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons during 2010. In emergency rooms, more than 1 million patients were treated in 2009 for problems involving prescription painkillers or psychotherapeutic drugs such as anti-anxiety and sleep medications. Continue reading…

Editorial. Paying for results, not treatments. December 31, 2013.
One of the fundamental problems in the U.S. healthcare system is that the most common and straightforward payment method — paying a fee for each service rendered — encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more care, not better care. In fact, it discourages efficiencies that lead to healthier patients at lower cost because they translate into lower incomes for those providing the service. Continue reading…

New York Times

Letter to the Editor. Cost of medical care at the end of life. January 10, 2013.
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, in “Better, if Not Cheaper, Care” (Op-Ed, Jan. 4), does well to note that end-of-life care is not a major proportion of total health care spending. But the costs of patients in critical care with chronic disease and multi-organ failure — heavily the elderly and those for whom death is a common but not an immediate outcome — are exceedingly high. Continue reading…

Seattle Times

Editorial. Washington needs to get it right on marijuana rules. January 10, 2013.
Washington is uniquely positioned to show the nation how a well-considered market for marijuana is a safer, saner and more lucrative approach than prohibition. Continue reading…

Letter to the Editor. Washington needs to get it right on marijuana rules. January 8, 2013.
In reference to The Seattle Times reports on the escalation of the flu season [“‘Severe’ flu season: still time for vaccine,” page one, Jan. 5], only the so-called benefits were stated while the possible side effects were ignored. I find this to be a disservice to your readers. Continue reading…

Washington Post

Editorial. Repairs to Medicare. January 6, 2013.
On New Year’s D, President Obama looked ahead to the post-“fiscal cliff” deficit-reduction battles and declared: “I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care . . . [make] Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. I believe we’ve got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive.” The question — a tricky one for a president who won reelection in part by defending “Medicare as we know it” — is how to accomplish this feat. Medicare as we know it is not sustainable. Continue reading…

Editorial. Safer food is on the way. January 4, 2013.
Last summer, cantaloupe grown at an Indiana farm triggered a 24-state outbreak of salmonella poisoning that sickened 261 people and caused three deaths. In recent days, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made public the results of an inspection of the farm. Salmonella was found on conveyor belts, there was trash and standing water in the packing house, and birds were roosting above — dropping feces on the processing line. Continue reading…

Be Sociable, Share!